Prop 8, The Movie

fromKQED

After the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly prohibited the YouTube broadcast of the first federal trial over same-sex marriage, a group of Hollywood actors decided they'd step in and film re-enactments. Using transcripts of the day-to-day proceedings, director John Ireland writes the scripts by day, and by night he films a reenactment at a mock trial courtroom on the campus of USC. The episodes will be broadcast over the Web.

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The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month blocked YouTube from broadcasting the first federal trial over same-sex marriage.

But starting Monday, the popular online video site plans to show the California trial in its entirety. And in true Hollywood style, it'll be a reenactment. Producers are using the trial transcript to film a word-for-word reproduction.

KQED's Rob Schmitz reports.

ROB SCHMITZ: The trial itself was already being billed as the legal equivalent of the Hollywood blockbuster. Lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies, former rivals in the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, coming together to fight for same-sex marriage; a landmark case that could eventually decide whether gay and lesbian Americans have the right to marry. And all this was to be broadcast over YouTube.

All this hype worked for John Ireland, who was clicking on YouTube's site the first morning of the trial.

Mr. JOHN IRELAND (Director): And we were all poised over our computers, and then the word came that the U.S. Supreme Court had blocked that feed.

SCHMITZ: In his frustration, Ireland fell back on what he knows best. The Hollywood producer called his actor friend John Ainsworth. The two then called more actor friends and pretty soon they had a cast, ready to film a made for YouTube reenactment of the Proposition 8 trial. They wanted to send a message to the highest court in the land that if you won't allow it to be filmed, we'll do it ourselves.

Mr. TED OLSON (Attorney): The right to marry a person of one's choice extended to all individuals regardless of sexual orientation...

SCHMITZ: Ireland and Ainsworth fine tuned the edits for a trailer of the series on a laptop in Irelands kitchen. The two look tired. Ainsworth was up late last night. He has a supporting role on Greys Anatomy. And now, he and Ireland are trying to catch up with the trial, which is winding down after two weeks.

Theyll be filming throughout the weekend at a mock trial courtroom at USC by using transcripts of the trial proceedings as the script and notes from friends inside the courtroom as stage direction tips. Ireland says the goal is to film an accurate word-for-word account of the trial.

Mr. IRELAND: Ive spent a lot of time looking through these scripts over the past few days, and I never wanted to be an attorney. And I probably never will be an attorney. But theres a beauty of the direct examination a cross examination and then a redirect.

SCHMITZ: Its a beauty that for some whos up there with watching their grass grow in your backyard.

Mr. ANDREW PUGNO (General Counsel, Protectmarriage.com): I know its excruciating enough to sit through in the first place...

SCHMITZ: Thats Andrew Pugno.

Mr. PUGNO: I can imagine sitting through a reenactment.

SCHMITZ: Pugno is an attorney for Protect Marriage, the sponsor of Proposition 8. Pugno says that co-producers Ireland and Ainsworth, both married gay men, are hardly unbiased observers.

Mr. PUGNO: But its some folks that very much support same-sex marriage and would like to push their agenda and part of that includes dramatizing and reenacting whats happening here in the courtroom. They have a right to do that. Ill be interested to see if anyone pays attention.

SCHMITZ: Plenty of people are paying attention to live blogging from inside the courtroom. One blog has received hundreds of thousands of hits. They may also pay attention if theres a celebrity involved. Ireland says hes been approached by an A-list Hollywood actress, but he wont say who she is. He also says he was approached by a casting director whos worked on the TV series, Lost, and the latest Star Trek, film.

Mr. IRELAND: She approached us with this simple offer, which is tell me who you want and well get them.

SCHMITZ: The rumor of big-time stars getting on board has spurred at least one of the plaintiffs lawyers to send Ireland his headshot so that Ireland could find the right actor. Celebrities or not, heres a sniffed of the Barebones, trailer for the Prop 8 reenactment online at marriagetrial.com.

Mr. IRELAND: This case is about marriage and equality. Plaintiffs are being denied both the right to marry and the right to equality under the law.

Unidentified Man: And she said marriage is not for you people.

Mr. IRELAND: Fourteen million voters decided to uphold...

SCHMITZ: If you think thats riveting, stay tuned for the first episode this Monday, all seven hours of it. Get some popcorn, lots of it.

For NPR News, Im Rob Schmitz in Los Angeles.

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